One of the many uses of the Greek character Nu/nu (N/v) is the representation of “degrees of freedom” in statistics.

While introductory textbooks may introduce degrees of freedom as distribution parameters or through hypothesis testing, it is the underlying geometry that defines degrees of freedom, and is critical to a proper understanding of the concept. Walker (1940)[3] has stated this succinctly as “the number of observations minus the number of necessary relations among these observations.”

Which, oddly, and probably in a laughably inaccurate way (to a statistician), sounds close to the dynamic of my relation to The Land and this project.

The Land was a distraction when everything was new. At first I hadn’t even walked the whole property. Then I hadn’t in spring. Then summer. Every weed and leaf and bird was a discovery. This materially inhibited my work on the house. I would catch myself going for a walk into the meadow for no reason, or taking Homer for an extra walk, or just staring out a window.

Familiarity breeds freedom. Just as the urgency of getting the house rehabbed has hit us freshly upon moving into the camper, so I have become more comfortable with The Land — it rests easier in my mind, freeing me to tackle the house full-bore. I walk by the large debris field in back, the collapsed shed, and rather than fretting over its individual components (a TV, a fridge, tires, etc., all of which will require special handling for disposal), I’m able to push it into a single simple compartment: We’ll get to that later.

But now that I’ve worked a couple of days in the house — away from all that, away from the outdoors, immersed in sawdust and power tools and measurements — I am discovering a new newness when I emerge in the late afternoon.

The Land is there, waiting for me. It’s not mine, I don’t have to grasp every stalk and tendril, I don’t have to sight every critter — I don’t have to carry it around with me like I’m developing a thesis or incubating offspring. It’s just there, incalculable, independent.